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Medium-Format Displays for Mixed Reality (MR) Systems


OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Microelectronics; Integrated Sensing and Cyber; Advanced Computing and Software

OBJECTIVE: Recent advances in head-mounted displays have identified an opportunity for low-cost and high-performance systems based on medium format size display panels, where the diagonal is on the order of 2.0"" - 3.5"" as opposed to the older techniques using small ""microdisplays"" with diagonal screen sizes of 1.0"" or less. Likewise, the pixel pitch of the larger medium format displays is on the order of 15-80 microns, as opposed to 9-12 microns for the micro-displays.  The larger scale of the medium format relieves the requirement for magnification by the eyepiece optics, and hence a lower cost system can result. The problem is in obtaining military-grade medium format display panels with sufficient pixel resolution, since the commercial market for medium formats is more focused on low-pixel resolutions devices such as the iWatch. Also, daylight readability is a requirement not currently met by commercial units. This topic involves the development of daylight readable, medium format (1.6” – 3.0” diag.) display panels for use in mixed reality (MR) head mounted display systems.

DESCRIPTION: Perform research & fabrication for a medium format (1.6" - 3.5" diag) display with at least 1280 x 720 color pixels, frame rate 60 Hz, adjustable brightness from 1 to 800 fL for daylight readability, contrast ratio of 1000:1, and AA-battery powered drive electronics to receive external video input.  The display's physical size & weight shall be minimized to support packaging into a head-mounted display system. Deliverables shall include as appropriate design review materials, electrical schematics, trade study results, and functioning hardware samples & test data. This device will help solve many problems encountered by the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS). This new display component would enable the use of low-cost visor optics to complete a display system with performance compatibility.

PHASE I: This is a Direct to Phase II topic. A Direct to Phase II (DP2) is recommended because the Government has received a proof of concept monochrome version of the medium format display as well as research regarding the path to achieve full color operation using similar principles. The level of maturity that the new display device offers indicates that a Phase I can justifiably be foregone and prototyping can begin to complete the desired development timeline.

DIRECT TO PHASE II: Upon acknowledging and (potentially) utilizing the research provided in Phase 1 description as premises for technical approach within proposal submission, awardees will then begin Prototype Kickoff, Design Review, Fabrication, Test, Delivery/Demonstration.


  • The high-resolution display market has received attention and capital from large tech companies. 
    • Google and LG completed a joint venture to create a high-resolution OLED VR headset, which leverages identical technology to OLED displays. 
  • Current market applications, including start-up usage, for OLED high-resolution display panels include:
    • VR/AR augmentation, especially the ability to create a more vibrant and realistic environment. 
      • This especially benefits the video game industry. 
    • Video games, TV, mobile phones, and computer monitors will have brighter portable displays, thereby creating a better user experience.
    • Healthcare and surgery capabilities can leverage OLED displays that are less harmful because they are cooler to the touch.

KEYWORDS:  Display systems; Micro-displays; Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS); Visor optics; panels



  1. Hamer, et. al., ""High-performance OLED microdisplays made with multi-stack OLED formulations on CMOS backplanes"", SPIE Proceedings Volume 11473, Organic and Hybrid Light Emitting Materials and Devices XXIV; 114730F (2020),
  2. Vogel, et. al., ""OLED microdisplays in near-to-eye applications: challenges and solutions"", SPIE Proceedings Volume 10335, Digital Optical Technologies 2017; 1033503 (2017)

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